We have visitors again
"We were so looking forward to American food" - Kerstin W.
Once again we wait at the international airport in Los Angeles and receive visitors. This time Alexandra's sister Kerstin and her friend "Mister M" will accompany us on our way for two weeks. As soon as we arrive at the pre-booked Airbnb for the first night, all of us get hungry stomachs. So we start looking for a tasty snack. "We were so looking forward to American food," Kerstin announces with a smile. "I'm really looking forward to a delicious burger. Mathias is already rolling his eyes at this point. Does he have a premonition?
After a short walk we have the choice between Subway and Popeye's. After a short vote we decide for the latter. The food gave us full stomachs, but later some of us had an extended rendezvous on the toilet. In other words: It was a puke ... unfortunately.
We were often disappointed by the quality of the food in the USA, but Popeye's has now definitely shot the bird. There's no worse way! At Mc Donald's in Switzerland you get a gourmet menu. Just saying ...
"Why don't you rent a Jucy camper when you're here? It's easiest!" - Alexandra W.
The next morning our plan forged the night before starts. Since we can only pick up the reserved Jucy Camper from 13.00 o'clock, we pass the time in the morning in L.A. and cut off the visit of Venice Beach and the Hollywood Boulevard incl. the famous lettering in the Hills.
After several bad experiences with car rentals outside Europe (remember the case of Mathias' parents a week ago?!), we inspect the car at Jucy's before signing the rental contract. We examine the vehicle to be taken over thoroughly and even the smallest damage is photodocumented. The take-over is otherwise super fast and uncomplicated and Jessica (the owner of the branch) is extremely friendly, wishes us an unforgettable trip and finally says goodbye with the words: "... and if you have any problems or questions, call or text me on Whatsapp. I'm ALWAYS available", and puts her business card into our hands.
We only want one thing ... out of this city. We drive directly north on the highway and are about 20 minutes away when the Jucy starts faxing. Lights appear on the dashboard that you'd rather not see and then our companions lose control of the throttle and brake. After less than 10 miles Trump's Shutdown has also caught the Jucy with full force. But hey, there is worse! We are only on Highway No. 5 in the middle of the rush hour! Kerstin and M. luckily manage to stop the rolling Jucy on a barrier between the roadway and a driveway. We are already further on, have to take the next exit and drive back, in order to get to the two via the aforementioned roadway.
Of course we immediately try to call I'm-always-available-Jessica ... unsuccessfully! We go through the different scenarios in our heads how to get off this highway the fastest and are already on our way to tow the Jucy with Baloo, when Jessica answers after the 100th call. After all, there is a towing service on site within a very short time and we immediately get a replacement car. But our demand for a price reduction after this failed start, which was not completely harmless, is hardly accepted. We only get a number from Jessica's boss, who won't answer any phone calls or e-mails until the end of our holidays!
So be warned if you ever consider renting a JUCY camper!
"You're gonna have so much fun at the third biggest New Year's Eve Party in the world!" - Jack (or something...)
We met Jack in the Hot Tub of our KOA campground in Las Vegas and he couldn't get out of raving about how lucky we are to be here on the last day of the year - in the city where the third biggest New Year's Eve party in the world would be celebrated on the strip every year.
Well, actually, we didn't come to the party per se. But we thought: New Year's Eve in Las Vegas? - Why not?...
In the late afternoon we take a Uber to the center, because we start early to close the Strip for traffic, so that here - according to Jack from the camping - up to 500'000 people from all over the world can celebrate. We are curious about that!
Anyway, after one or two aperitifs we are already having fun and while strolling through the casinos we are impressed again and again by how magnificent and elaborate the decorations and how detailed the hotels have been copied from their real models. When Kerstin and M. see the first slot machines, there is no stopping and they sit down at a roulette table, where they stay until shortly before midnight.
I prefer to play a few one-armed bandits, but not much gets around, and finally try my hand at blackjack and shove a $20 bill into one of the machines. But luck is not on my side today. When I draw another card with a score of 20, it's finally time. I'd rather leave the gambling alone and enter the losses well-behaved in the household booklet. The looks of the people next to me were priceless!
Shortly before midnight we grab 4 glasses of sparkling wine and go to the terrace of the Venetian for a drink. Actually every bigger hotel on the Strip has its own fireworks, which should go up one after the other. Unfortunately a strong wind is blowing today, so that this is not possible. Furthermore there are temperatures around freezing here at the moment, which is untypical for Las Vegas even in winter and we are happy when we can get back to the warmth and the slot machines (at least in the case of Kerstin).
Sometime in the early morning hours, when the ball has finally stopped at the 7th Roulette, we close the chapter Las Vegas and go home in the icy cold. By the way, we didn't notice anything about the alleged giant party. The strip remained practically empty the whole night. Either it was too cold for everyone or Jack exaggerated too much.
"We escape the winter in Switzerland and will enjoy the warmth in the south of the USA" - M.R.
Since we are all pretty fit the morning after New Year's Eve, we decide to make a New Year's trip to the Grand Canyon and tackle the 400km there. The way goes on. When the sun goes down, we are only in Williams and still have 100km ahead of us. But we absolutely want to drive to the South Rim so that we can see the sunrise at the edge of the canyon tomorrow morning.
What we all didn't expect, especially our visit from Switzerland, is that it can get very cold in winter at the Grand Canyon. Kerstin and M., who have prepared themselves for summer holidays and packed their suitcases accordingly, have already reached their limits in Las Vegas at 0°C in the night. But now it is already -6°C in Williams with setting sun and when it is completely gone, we can literally watch how the degrees fall further and further into the depth. Moreover, the closer we get to the national park, the more snow there is on the roadside. At the park entrance we are reminded once more of the still continuing government shutdown when the cleared road suddenly turns into a glacier. The whole landscape is buried under a 20cm thick layer of snow and we are swaying in evil...
... if the JUCY hadn't already been caught on the first day after 20 minutes, then I would have predicted him to be out of the race prematurely here at the latest. Contrary to expectation he fights his way through the snow masses despite summer tyres until we arrive in the snowy forest, where theoretically the Mather Campground would be located. We choose the best clearing for our night camp, because meanwhile our cars function more as snow ploughs. We can bring the JUCY in the last second shortly before the jacking up at a safe place to a stop and trudge first of all the surroundings around the two cars flat.
Cooking the dinner is the next challenge. The pans just don't want to get really hot in such sub-zero temperatures. But the men put something tasty on our plates in the outdoor kitchen and we enjoy the food, which could have been the last supper.
Als wir nach der durchzechten Nacht um 06.30 Uhr beim Klingeln des Weckers auf das Thermometer blicken, trauen wir unseren Augen nicht! Da steht -17°C!!
Wir haben die ganze Nacht die Standheizung laufen lassen und konnten so die Innentemperatur des Fahrzeugs auf knapp 0°C halten. Wie aber Kerstin und M. die Nacht ohne Heizung mit einer dünnen Baumwolldecke und in Boxershorts und T-shirts überlebt haben, ist mir ein Rätsel!
Pünktlich zum Sonnenaufgang sind wir beim Aussichtspunkt am Mather Point. Was wir sehen ist einfach nur WOW! Aus der Dunkelheit zeichnet sich bei Einsetzen des Tageslichts mehr und mehr ein gigantisches Relief ab. Mit jedem Sonnenstrahl mehr, erscheint eine Kante mehr, ein Abbruch mehr, der Canyon erwacht und beginnt über das gesamte Farbspektrum von kastanienbraun über bordeauxrot bis Magenta zu funkeln. Verziert ist er mit einer hauchdünnen Schicht gefallenem Neuschnee, was das Bild perfekt macht. Ein Bild, das ich niemals vergessen werde.
Nachdem wir uns bei einem Kaffee einigermassen aufgewärmt haben, treten wir den Rückweg an und fahren mit zwei Zwischenstopps bis San Diego, wo wir fast eine ganze Woche verbringen. Unser Visum für die USA läuft aus und so haben wir etwas Zeit uns auf den Grenzübertritt vorzubereiten und die anderen beiden können doch noch etwas wärmere Temperaturen geniessen … im Hot Tub des Campgrounds.
Zwischendurch bleibt Zeit zum Spielen, zum Quatschen, zum Lachen, zum Kochen und zum Geniessen. Nachdem wir herausfinden, dass wir mit M.’s Militärausweis bei vielen Aktivitäten beachtliche Rabatte erhalten, nehmen wir auch noch an einem Whale Watching teil, das uns (ohne Scherz!) 22 USD pro Person kostet.
Nach schönen zwei Wochen heisst es aber einmal mehr Abschied nehmen. Für Kerstin und M. geht’s zurück in die Schweiz und für uns nach Mexiko!